Visme (formerly Presenter), along with Canva, discussed later, is an emerging all-purpose graphic design tool. With its gorgeous data visualizations and wide variety of templates, it exists between an infographic maker and PowerPoint alternative on a continuum. Visme started solely as a presentation creator, but now it offers users the ability to create infographics, banner ads, and more, thankfully utilizing similar tools for all of them.
At first glance, Haiku Deck seems like another presentation design tool, but it leaves out a number of crutches and bad habits, namely bullet points and slide transitions. Haiku Deck "cards" err more on the side of the visual than its peers, allowing only little bits of important text. The focus here is on the confidence of the creator/user and the visual aspect of presentations. It brings with it millions of stock photos to back up its visual emphasis. The goal here is to never have an ugly slide, though presenters that need to push out a lot of content might want to look elsewhere.
Emaze is cloud-based and made in HTML5, so it works in any browser on any device. Because of this it can be resource-intensive as far as memory goes, but it makes up for it in its simple tools and small learning curve. Its templates and design tools allow users to get up and running, so to speak, in less time than it would take to make a PowerPoint. Experienced designers will find plenty to like as well.
A popular up-and-comer in the digital presentation world, Projeqt is another one of the many alternatives to PowerPoint out there that allows students and creators to make powerful curatorial multimedia digital artifacts. "Projeqts" split the difference between a slideshow and a pinboard and can be created within a browser.
Slidebean is a newer PowerPoint alternative that does a lot of the heavy-lifting for you in terms of design and layout of the slides. Slidebean is limited in terms of number of slide layouts and the freedom the user has to manipulate them, but it makes up for this with attractive fonts, color palettes, and layouts. Slidebean is a quality choice for those who would rather concentrate on content and not dither with design.
Adobe Spark Page
(formerly Adobe Slate)
Adobe Spark Page is one of the most attractive and simple-to-use website/presentation creators out there. In fact, you're looking at one right now! Obviously I'm biased, but I really do think it's an interesting way to make a quick "single subject" website to disseminate information. Though the themes and layouts are limited, they are almost all attractive, and Adobe gives the creator access to thousands of free photos (it even handles attribution for you). Use the Adobe Spark iOS apps or create presentations on browsers. You need an Adobe ID to log into all Adobe products, but this allows you to sync up your projects within the Adobe Spark and Creative Cloud suites.
One of the more fully-featured infographic creators with a number of sleek free templates that are customizable and offer the user a lot of options, even at the free level. The drag and drop interface has only a slight learning curve, and Piktochart, while specializing in designing infographics, can also be used to create reports, flyers, and presentations.
Infogr.am offers the same kind of browser-based attractive infographic templates as Piktochart, but it is more concerned with the data visualization side of things. There are fewer free options than Piktochart, but it excels in charts, graphs, and tables, and these graphics can be embedded in other websites. Online publications like the Verge use Infogr.am to display data in their articles.
Canva is a popular web-based drag-and-drop graphic design tool with a bevy of prefab layouts for you to start your designs with. Canva allows the user to design a whole suite of branding for an organization, business, or classroom, from logos to letterheads to flyers to social media banners. Though there are paid levels for it, the free version still has lots of professional-looking options. There is a good chance that Canva has something to suit your needs.
Adobe Spark Post
(formerly Adobe Post)
Another part of the interconnected (and free) Adobe Spark suite of tools, Adobe Spark features a myriad of templates that you can use as a jumping-off point for your own designs. The color palettes are striking and bold, and it is easy to change almost every aspect of the design. Even with the limited font choices and layout tools, the simple and powerful creation tools allow the user to experiment and usually arrive at a winning design. It even offers surprisingly good suggestions for your work, allowing you to focus on the text and the image choice. Spark Post is geared toward social media, so you can choose template sizes from that, as well as photo backdrops from the thousands of free images in their database (or upload one of your own). It's an easy way to make a powerful, shareable digital flyer of sorts.
Many of my students of all ages have shocked themselves and others by making animations with Powtoon. Almost all animation toolsets have a bit of a learning curve, but once you get past the Inception-like thinking necessary to animate, it does really powerful stuff, even with the free version. Users can make traditional linear animated movies or slide-after-slide presentations. I used to program Flash, and stuff like this took me weeks. Now you can do it in hours, and some of the templates are pretty good, even if many of the animations are locked behind a paywall. If you’re up for a (brief) challenge then you’ll impress yourself with the animations you create with this.
Adobe Spark Video
(formerly Adobe Voice)
I don't want to sound like an Adobe sales representative, but the Adobe Spark suite of tools are some of the best around for novice and expert designers alike. Adobe Spark Video is a powerful animated presentation creator for tablets with simple, straightforward built-in iconography, stylish themes, and voice-over. You can add in Creative Commons photos straight out of the app, as well as images from your own photo library and other Adobe apps. A nice alternative to PowerPoint that allows for narration recording, even right out of the iPad or iPhone. The new browser-based version is even better, and, given the choice between this and PowerPoint, I would choose this every time.
The above video was created in Adobe Spark Video by our own Dr. Eunbae Lee to promote our Innovation Studio makerspace.
Stop Motion Studio
Unlock your inner Ray Harryhausen! One of the simpler (and thus easier-to-use) stop motion animation creators that still packs a punch under the hood, as it can export to 4k and 1080HD. One of its limitations is that it always defaults to 12 fps and the shakiness of mobile device often require stabilization like a tripod...or even a selfie stick (not kidding!). The Pro version is a reasonable $4.99, but the free version is ample enough for K-12 needs and works on Android, iOS, and Windows tablets and phones. I’ve taught kids and adults how to use it, and everyone seems to enjoy it.
Imaengine is a free-to-inexpensive ($0.99 for the paid version with better exporting features) vectorizer that turns photos and other images on your phone or tablet into something resembling cartoons and paintings and even avant-garde abstract art. This conversion of raster and bitmaps (images that break apart when stretched) to vector results in smoothed out files that can be edited in Adobe Illustrator and other programs. Some results can be wild, but there isn’t much out there like it. It also has video that is choppy but has a neat animated effect and can be used to turn real life into animation to be added to one of these other presentation tools here. Many of my students have acted out scenes and "animated them" in place of learning how to do actual animation, which, as you might have guessed, takes time, talent, and resources.
One of the many app-based visual storytellers out there that can combine photos and media, straight from a phone or tablet (Android or iOS), rather than having to edit and manipulate clips on a computer. The app is free and pretty slick, though most of the content is housed within the internal social network of the site.
The relatively new "story maker" app KnowMe sits somewhere between Instagram and iMovie, allowing you to take any media on a phone, from photos to music to movies, and mix it together. It also enables easy photo and video shooting a la Vine or Instagram. It's currently only on iOS with an Android version in the works. A fairly quick signup for the app is required.
One of the most education-oriented of the visual storytelling apps out there, Shadow Puppet works in much the same way as others mentioned here. They directly promote themselves as an educational app and have a growing community of teachers using the app in classrooms. It works much in the way as other apps here, allowing the user to add text, music, voiceover, and more. The app is iOS only and free, but the website does feature many lesson plans and Common Core tie-ins that might be helpful for any use of visual storytelling tools.
Nutshell–by Prezi–is a fun iOS-only app that allows the user to make quick, "mini-movies" featuring text and animations. The user takes three photos that are stitched together with a bit of digital wizardry, and I've seen students make some compelling narratives and creative stories even with the app's limitations. Nutshell is free and iOS only.
Prezi was one of the first challengers to PowerPoint's crown, allowing for the development of non-linear presentations that tended to be more visual. The user places objects on its slide-less stage and connects them via paths, allowing for zooming in and out of photos and interesting pairings of words and text. One major drawback: Prezi's signature "swooshing" and "zooming" between content can be gimmicky and even nausea-inducing, especially for Prezis where organization was an afterthought. It remains a powerful alternative to PowerPoint but is not as novel as it once was.
Whereas some of these presentation tools are like "PowerPoint on Steroids," Google's presentation software is really more of PowerPoint on a diet. It's not a looker compared to some of the others here, but it has the same basic structure and guts as PowerPoint, is free, and it stores your slides via the cloud on Google Drive. This means it's a good choice for making quick presentations that can be accessed anywhere. Google Slides remains a solid choice when you need a more traditional PowerPoint-style presentation, and there is more there than meets the eye, as evidenced by the Google Slide "slam" you will see in a bit.
You've probably seen Apple's Keynote software, available on Macs and iOS, in use during one of Apple's showy product reveals. For better or worse, Keynote presentations lean toward the smooth, slick minimalism of the "Apple aesthetic," making it a worthy alternate to PowerPoint's sometimes staid designs. The transitions tend to be subtle, and it can export to a variety of formats, but it still follows the typical presentation model. It does cost money unless pre-installed on a Mac, and when it exports to formats like PowerPoint, some of its feel can be lost in the process. However, even after a number of years, its basic templates and options still seem more contemporary than many of its predecessors.
PowerPoint as art project?
David Byrne's PowerPoint Art
Created with images by geralt - "mark marker hand" • alice_c - "GiardinaKARLSRUHE - Death by Powerpoint" • Army Medicine - "Sleep Icon" • mafflong - "Death by PowerPoint" • madmarv00 - "#PPTK shirts - My Bullet Points are Deadly." • Abode of Chaos - "Borderline Biennial 10 octobre 2009 - P1010764" • PublicDomainPictures - "army blade compact" • waferboard - "Polaroid" • thewikiman - "Prezi Positioning" • tendenci - "Silicon Vikings San Francisco" • junyaogura - "Android Market in Japan" • Tom Coates - "Steve Jobs!" • Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com - "Portrait with PowerPoint, after Pieter Jansz van Asch" • alterna2 - "David Byrne en Barcelona" • Mike Babcock - "Shaving Scott" • PublicDomainPictures - "bubble caucasian thought"